#209: I Wanna Be Your Man

In 1960, Dr. Seuss made a bet with his editor, challenged to come up with a children’s book using 50 or fewer different words. The result was the kindergarten classic Green Eggs and Ham. Three years later, John Lennon and Paul McCartney used just 18 unique words to create “I Wanna Be Your Man,” and if their challenge was to get the worst original Beatles composition out of the way early in their career, mission accomplished. (“Revolution 9” is not a song. To quote Ron Burgundy, if you disagree, I will fight you.)

Of course, if you want to get really pedantic, you could argue that “I Wanna Be Your Man” is actually a cover on some level–three weeks before it showed up on With the Beatles, an up-and-coming British blues-rock band released it as their first single. Donated at the request of said band, the Beatles willingly kickstarted the careers of their greatest rivals, the Rolling Stones.


The Stones later kick-started Spinal Tap’s career, so it’s all good.

There are a few George- and Ringo-sung tracks from the 1963-65 period that I think would be improved had John Lennon taken the mic instead…but I don’t really think there was much that could be done to salvage “I Wanna Be Your Man.” Lennon himself summed it up perfectly in 1980:

It was a throwaway. Ringo sang it for us and the Stones did their version. That shows how much importance we put on it: We weren’t going to give them anything great, right?

Insert mic drop here. I mean, it’s kind of at his own expense, but spot-on nonetheless.

#209: I Wanna Be Your Man